Massachusetts Pharmacy Co-Owner Faulted for Meningitis Outbreak

New England Compounding Center (NECC) co-owner Barry Cadden has been blamed for the national meningitis outbreak and has been discovered to have a long history of not complying with federal regulators. is reporting that a memo released Monday by a congressional committee states the Framingham-based pharmacist initially denied having an eye medication that was a subject of a complaint in 2004.

The memo was based on documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prepared for a hearing Wednesday to explore the causes of the outbreak and whether it could have been prevented. It questioned why the Massachusetts pharmacy board did not take stronger action against New England Compounding Center, especially when it has investigated 12 complaints about its practices over a decade. It addition, the FDA submitted a warning in 2003 announcing the pharmacy’s practices could cause “serious public health consequences.”

In addition, staffers questioned by the FDA itself did not take action against the pharmacy once complaints involving patients becoming ill were submitted. is also reporting pharmacy spokesman Andrew Paven said he could not comment on the memo.

“It is clear that NECC knowingly disregarded sterility tests, prepared medicine in unsanitary conditions and violated their pharmacy license,” said Dr. Lauren Smith, interim commission of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in a statement Monday. “Poor judgment, missed opportunities and a lack of appropriate oversight allowed NECC to continue on this troubling path.”

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there is a total of 438 non-fatal cases of fungal meningitis, 32 have died and 10 have peripheral joint infections. The outbreak has been caused by a contaminated shot issued by NECC for back pain.

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